Review by Machine500
"A great investement."
Time Splitters 2 Review
"Time Splitters 2" , a First-Person Shooter game, is the second installment of the Time Splitters series. It comes from the game design company, Free Radical. Many of the designers from Free Radical come from a game design company called Rare. Rare made previous hit titles such as "Goldeneye", and "Perfect Dark", both on the Nintendo 64 console. Microsoft bought Rare when Microsoft released the Xbox, however, because of Rare's major loss in game designers, so far, Rare has released only one game title on the Xbox, called "Grabbed By The Ghoulies", which didn't turn out to be a very big success. Although Free Radical has only released a few titles so far, they are releasing the third installment of the Time Splitters series, "Time Splitters 3: Future Perfect" in early 2005, which has been highly anticipated ever since the success of Time Splitters 2.
Time Splitters 2 has a very unique gameplay style like no other First-Person Shooter. The game takes place in many different parts of the world, as well as many different times. You could be dueling it out with a rival cowboy in the "Wild West" in one level, where as in another level you may be in a robot factory trying to disable some high tech equipment. The level design in TS2 is very nicely done, however, the levels tend to get somewhat boring. In many levels, you will see nothing but the same wall texture being repeated over and over again, and the levels themself feel somewhat linear.
Time Splitters 2 has a very nice arsenal of weapons to offer. Weapons range from bricks, (yes, bricks) to 12-gauge shotguns, to automatic homing rocket launchers. Not only do we see handguns, rifles, and rocket launchers in this game, but we also get a nice selection of explosives such as the "timed mine", the "proximity mine"- a classic from goldeneye, and a grenade launcher that shoots flaming grenades. We also see some stationary guns, such as the camera-controlled stationary minigun, which can be very useful for taking out enemies without the risk of getting fired upon by them, but someone could be ready to plant a timed mine right beside you while you are looking through the surveillance camera and you wouldn't even know it. . The great thing about the weapons in this game is that they range from one time zone to another. So, you could be playing as an alien from outer space carrying a handgun from the 1800's. With that said, you will see weapons such as: Miniguns, AK-47s, sniper rifles, several different types of handguns, crossbows, and double-barreled shotguns. If you play a lot of first-person shooters, you will realize that in most games the onscreen weapon you are holding is "locked" in position so that when you move your weapon, the screen moves with it. However, to keep the same "Goldeneye" feel to the game, Free Radical has used the same type of aiming style as in Goldeneye, so that you can freely move your weapon around to a certain extent without moving the screen. Many people do not like this feature, some do not mind it, and a lot hate it. On top of that, out of all the options they give you to customize, they do not let you turn this annoying feature off. If you are aiming at a far away target, it becomes extremely hard to hit the target even when you are using a sniper rifle. In fact, the sniper rifle is almost useless, because A: it does very minimal damage, B: it has that same "free-look" aiming style when you are looking through the scope, which makes it extremely hard to use on a moving target, and C: it is useless in close combat because it is very accurate, which is not good in close range, and has a low recovery rate. Not only that but it doesn't even feel like a sniper rifle. It just feels like a silenced pistol with a long scope on it.
The controls in Time Splitters 2 are probably the most customizable controls I have seen in a game yet. They give you the ability to assign every button to a command. This is a great feature if you are left handed, or if you prefer to hold your controller an irregular way. They also give you the ability to change several other options such as auto weapon change, rumble, invert or default Y-Axis, and several other options.
The enemy AI in TS2 is somewhat plain, and every time you are up against one, they usually do one of the same things every time: kneel down and shake their heads around like they are drunk, run away, or do the same two things at once. Almost every AI bot in TS2 no matter how big or small they are, it feels like you are killing the same person over and over again. However, they did have certain parts in which an AI may knock down a crate he is hiding behind, and then open fire. Things like these are set to happen though, so you won't see anyone you are in a gunfight with go and throw boxes around while wielding two rocket launchers.
The single player mode offers 10 levels to play, and although 10 does not seem like much, each level is a whole new setting, and most levels have some type of boss whether it be a giant robot or a cowboy from the "Wild West". Each level can be played on easy, medium or hard. Medium is quite a challenge, and hard will put you through some planning and different ideas to beat the level. Aside from the single player "Campaign" mode, you also get two other game types: "Arcade Mode", and "Challenge mode". Arcade mode is basically a slew of individual multiplayer games in which you and, sometimes, other AI on your team, are up against another set of AI in several different game types such as Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, and . In challenge mode, you have a set of different tasks that you must complete, such as breaking 20 windows with bricks in a set amount of time, or collecting a certain amount of items in a set amount of time. If you do well enough on either a challenge or an arcade game, you will be awarded with a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum medal. In most challenge or arcade levels, if you are awarded a high rank medal, you will also be awarded with a multiplayer map, game type, or character.
This is the one thing that probably made TS2 such a great game- The mapmaker. The mapmaker is basically a feature that you can access from the start menu which allows you to actually create a full map, save it, and then play it with your friends in multiplayer, or use it as a single player level. Although mapmakers are often seen in many of today's PC games, this mapmaker is one of the first, if not the first, to hit a console FPS game. As if TS2 didn't already have enough replayability, the mapmaker almost gives the game unlimited replayability. Thanks to the Xbox's 8GB hard drive, you are able to make a huge amount of maps and never have to delete one of them.
When you first enter the mapmaker, you are given two choices: Beginner mode or advanced mode. After using the mapmaker for about 20 minutes, you should have enough skill to enter advanced mode. With this mapmaker, you are limited to what you can create, but you can really make some quite complex maps. You can either make single player maps or multiplayer maps. When making a single player map, you can pick from over 100 enemies to use in the level, but you can only place up to 10, however, you are able to make them "respawn", so that you aren't running out of enemies. In the single player mapmaker, you are able to create everything from a briefing to the mission, to putting every switch you have to pull or gold you must retrieve in the mission. This mapmaker is really a great feature, and it gives the game a huge amount of replayability.
The graphics in this game are really nothing special, to be honest. The characters, guns, and many other objects in the game don't have very much detail, and they look very cartoony. The textures on the walls can get extremely repetitive, because of the fact that most of the textures are just repeated over and over again, except the odd time when you'll see a window or a door. Don't expect to see real-time shadows, highly detailed models, or anything else to spectacular, because it's not there. The weapons in general have a nice look to them, but unfortunately they do not have animated reloads, and every weapon has the same reload time. Chances are, nothing graphics-wise will "wow" you in this game. The levels are quite nicely designed, but as I said before, they do get repetitive. There are a few neat things I have noticed though, such as when you shoot a weapon with an ammunition release door, the ammunition will fall opposite the direction you are moving, and in one level, you can see a commercial airplane take off in the distance. One more thing that was attractive was the fire effects. When you get caught on fire, fire effects are formed on the frame of the screen, and to top that off, when a character is caught on fire, it just looks damn nice. One huge let down to me was that there were no blood effects. Apparently Free Radical's aim was to get a "T" rating, but one thing that would have made this game a lot better is blood effects. One thing that was done very nicely in this game was the cutscenes. Most of them are very nicely done, and each one explains the story beneath the mission you are about to tackle by giving nicely animated character sequences and well done face animations.
Sound. The one thing that I find does not receive enough attention in most games. TS2 gives a small amount of music in the cutscenes and while playing the game, but it is nothing too innovative. To be honest, I really don't think they paid much attention to the sound while designing this game, although it does seem to come out quite nicely in the end. You are able to choose from a selection of music when playing a multiplayer game, which is a nice little feature. Most of the music is quite simple, but there is one track which it sais in the credits that someone actually used a guitar to create one of the in game tracks. The weapon sounds are not executed very well. Most of the weapons sound quite faded, and there isn't very much expression in them. There are a few well done voiceovers done in the cutscences, but there isn't a huge amount of talking in the game- a lot of it is done by simply giving expressions on the characters face to express their feelings.
Although the story is not very well executed, this is more of a "Finish the game by shooting everyone" type game, rather than a "Sit down and get comfy because you will have to pay attention" type game. The story seems quite simple, and it is, but through the levels, many different events occur that change the main characters' path on how they plan on saving the world. A few tragic events happen along the storyline, but many of these events are taken as a joke, by putting in characters and cutscenes which attempt to imitate scenes from movies like "Austin Powers". Although the storyline may not be the most intuitive experience, it is a solid storyline overall, and it is easy to follow.
The sole reason I give the replayability a 10 out of 10 is because of the mapmaker, although there are a few more gametypes which also contribute. The mapmaker allows you to basically create a whole new campaign mode, or new multiplayer modes which is a great feature. The single player mode by itself is great, because it offers 3 difficulties which alone is a lot of replayability. The challenges and the arcade mode are two other great features, and the multiplayer is very nicely done, because you are given the ability to not only create your own maps, but gives you a large selection of pre made maps, and a large amount of customizable features, and even a system link mode which allows you to play with up to 16 players.
I highly recommend you buy this game if you can afford it, because not only can you probably find it for quite cheap by now, but it is a very nicely put together game, and there is a huge amount of replayability. If you can't afford it, then perhaps you should rent it.
+ Great mapmaker feature
+ Great Single player and Multiplayer
+ Neat cutscenes
+ Huge amount of replayability
+ Some nice music scores
+ Over 100 characters
- Crappy AI
- Weapon sounds lacking
- Cartoony graphics
- Aiming style is horrid
- Storyline isn't very in depth
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/05
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